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The conference-leading Miami Heat arrive in Detroit tonight with one man short of the team's big three. With Dwyane Wade out on a one game suspension, Detroit has an improved chance of stealing a game from the reigning NBA Champions.
Having lost seven straight games to the Miami Heat, the Detroit Pistons will take any advantage they can get their hands on. It's hard to celebrate the absence of Dwyane Wade, as future hall-of-famer Ray Allen will be filling his role tonight at The Palace. Without Wade, the Heat may also lean on LeBron James to handle more of the scoring and distribution responsibilities, something he's surely not going to shy away from. The more you examine it, the more fractional Detroit's advantage looks tonight...
Game Tips Off at 7:30 P.M. EST
Miami Heat: 20 - 6 (6 - 4 road)
Detroit Pistons: 9 - 22 (6 - 8 home)Detroit Pistons tickets
Despite that seemingly fractional advantage over the normal Miami Heat, the reigning champions have been struggling on the road. That's a very relative kind of struggle, as the Heat are still playing over .500 at away games. Yet if Detroit is going to have any chance to steal one from Miami, it's likely going to happen without one of the team's Big Three.
So what happened to Dwyane Wade anyway? Wade is sitting out on a one game suspension for kicking another player in the nuts. Hilarious! A good old nut kicking. Who's the sucker that got nut kicked? Let me look that up, just a minute... Let's see, it was against Charlotte the other night...
OH GOD PLEASE NO. PLEASE NO GOD. NO. NO. NOOOOOOOO. Dwyane Wade kicked MY Ramon Sessions in the nuts? Ramonis Adonis? Mr. Makeout Sessions himself? Dwyane Wade kicked the loins of the lion, Mr. 24 Assists himself?
What I want to know is why Dwyane Wade isn't out for the season. Seriously. And I'm not talking about suspensions. I mean injuries. That's like kicking a man-sized diamond wrapped in steel covered in ice and dipped in concrete. How is Wade's ankle not broken in half? How is fragile-assed Dwyane "Wheel Me Off" Wade not sitting in a tub of ice crying to a grief counselor right now? There's only one explanation, and it's that Dwyane "Butter Knees" Wade made a deal with the devil. Well guess what, devil-- Ramon is totally fine. He didn't even walk away with a scratch. Nice try devil, you stupid piece of gutter trash.
...where were we? Oh yeah, Miami. Tonight's game will likely be as rough on Detroit as if Wade were there on the court, as Ray Allen is shooting lights out once again from the perimeter and elsewhere. The Pistons best chances tonight would be to try and contain Lebron's passing lanes to Bosh and Allen, to keep some big bodies in the painted area and to keep an eye on Miami's perimeter shooters. On offense, Detroit will want to look for transition opportunities, to try and get Monroe going in the post and to avoid the me-first tendencies that pretty much every non-frontcourt player exhibits.
Keys to the Game:
Crowd Passing Lanes, Block the Paint: Without Wade, Miami will be more reliant on Lebron and Supernintendo Chalmers to carry the distribution load. Detroit should look to crowd these two and stay active in the passing lanes for easy transition buckets. Miami may be a bit off their game here, so Detroit should look to capitalize. Also, Bosh and James both spend a lot of time in the frontcourt, and it would be lovely to have a 7' 280 pound answer just waiting for them under the basket. I'm pretty sure we have one of those somewhere.
Bull Moose Party: MF Don't Look Now, but Greg Monroe's defense has quietly improved quite a bit this season, and it might be a healthy heat check (no pun intended, trust me) to see how he handles a Lebron James caliber scorer at power forward. Monroe has one of the best spot-up and pick-and-roll defenses in the league this year, which might actually work well against LeBron James playing point forward inside the perimeter. You know the old saying, fight point forwards with point forwards, or something. Also, Andre Drummond eats Chris Boshes for breakfast.
Backcourt Substitions?: Over the last ten or more games, Kyle Singler has been playing quite horribly. Over the same stretch, Brandon Knight has shown no improvement in running a five man offense. It might be time, tonight or in the near future, to try things a little differently in the back court. Could Stuckey be ready for another shot at point duties? Could a wild card like Kim English be worth a test at shooting guard? What about Will Bynum? For the last many games, Detroit's starting backcourt is not working. It's one thing to allow Greg Monroe to play through his mistakes, as he's shown a season or more worth of promise at his position. Singler and Knight, on the other hand, may deserve and might even benefit from a change, even temporary.
Question of the Game:
Will the Palace of Auburn Hills break 25% capacity tonight in featuring the NBA champions?